16. December 2016 · Comments Off on Goodbye 2016: Ten Personal Goals for 2017 · Categories: Uncategorized

A few things I am looking to do in 2017 as the sun sets on 2016

1)      Eliminate the non-essential in all of its formats (noise, mental distractions/worries, unnecessary technological activity, and material/physical stuff) in order to focus on what is most important.

a.       I’m reading the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo to start the process

2)      Do more Stopping and Savoring of Experiences instead of Rushing Through Experiences

a.       I’m working on being more contemplative/ reflective instead of trying to hurry up and grasp for a quick jolt of exuberance in a given life experience. It pays to stop and savor the moment. Lingering in the joy of a positive moment allows a sublime memory to cement itself in the brain.

3)      Use the “inner drill sergeant” in the right contexts, turn him off when appropriate

a.       I constantly had the “inner drill sergeant” going at full blast at all times even during off days which creates far too much self induced pressure. My off day was fully regimented from start to finish, with no time to stop and think about the big picture.  What I am planning to do is use “the inner drill sergeant” to take on my most important tasks and for doing regular physical exercise. I plan to have some-time when I am “at ease” for non-task oriented life experiences.

4)      Teach others how to do something that I’ve been doing for a while

a.       It pays to spread the wealth of knowledge. This empowers others to do something that they have not done before and to develop their confidence and skills. It also allows for a positive relationship to form between the learner and the teacher. The teacher also benefits by having time to move onto other challenging concerns while the learner handles a task that they have already mastered.

5)      Connect with community and nature more

a.       I plan to have one day a week where my car use will be very limited if I choose to use the car at all. It pays to walk around town, visit places I haven’t seen before, and to see what people are up to. This also allows for a savoring of nature and getting outdoors.  A side benefit is that without the use of the car, I can’t get trapped into doing chores during the entire day. If I can’t walk to where I need to be, it’s not going to happen.  The kiss of death for a day off is driving a long distance to accomplish an Administrative Concern (AC) which is an errand or chore.

6)      Lead initiatives when passionate about leading,  but also be open to being a wise follower

a.       Have you ever gotten voluntarily  involved in a group in your community and been asked if you want to lead such and such group, program, activity, etc? If you’re passionate about it, have the time for it, get off the charts personal enjoyment (PE) out of it, and will get the support you need from the community group then go for it! On the other hand if you’re passionate about it, being a follower is still great with a far more flexible level of commitment. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I already have leadership commitments elsewhere. This activity (group, club, program, etc.) allows me to have fun while not feeling overcommitted. If you’d like I can give you my thoughts on the characteristics of a person that could best lead this.” If you don’t have leadership commitments elsewhere just use the last two sentences from the quote above.  A wise follower recognizes that their maximum personal enjoyment (PE) is found in an equilibrium between being active/dedicated to something, but not being overcommitted.

7)      For days off make sure PE (Personal Enjoyment) activities outweigh completing ACs (Administrative Concerns). The worse case scenario is that PE activities should be equal to ACs. Never let ACs outweigh PEs on an off day if you can help it.

8)      Give thanks everyday as each day brings gift

9)      Strive for 20 minutes of pure silence each day, work up to an hour of silence each day by the end of 2017.

a.       This is pure meditative silence. No actions should be completed during this time. I am hoping to strengthen my creativity muscles.

10)   Journal and record the positive unforgettable found in each day. Don’t feel bad about postponing non-emergencies if you have to, non-emergencies end up being the forgettable stuff in life anyway.

18. November 2016 · Comments Off on Presentation at Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference · Categories: Uncategorized

I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference in Annapolis from November 3 to 5, 2016. I presented on a panel entitled Wearing Many Hats. See the slides at http://hdl.handle.net/1903/18895



28. October 2016 · Comments Off on Originals by Adam Grant: Favorite Quotes Part 2 · Categories: Uncategorized

Originals by Adam Grant: Favorite Quotes Part 2

“Building on a classic book by economist Albert Hirschman, there are four different options for handling a dissatisfying situation. Exit means removing yourself from the situation altogether. Voice involves actively trying to improve the situation. Persistence is gritting your teeth and bearing it. Neglect entails staying in the current situation but reducing your effort.” (p. 79)

“Fundamentally, these choices are based on feelings of control and commitment. Do you believe you can effect change, and do you care enough to try? If you believe you’re stuck with the status quo, you’ll choose neglect when you’re not committed, and persistence when you are. If you do feel you can make a difference, but you aren’t committed to the person, country, or organization, you’ll leave. Only when you believe your actions matter and care deeply will you consider speaking up. (p. 80)”

“The lesson here is that voice isn’t inherently superior to exit. The best we can do is voice our opinions and secure our risk portfolios, preparing for exit if necessary (p. 90)”

“Even if your organization doesn’t currently embrace critical upward feedback, holding an open season on leaders might be an effective way to begin changing the culture (p. 203)”

“…Envisioning the worst- case scenario enables us to harness anxiety as a source of motivation to prepare and succeed. (p. 217)”

“If you want people to go out on a limb, you need to show them that they’re not alone. (p. 226)”

“It’s easier to rebel when it feels like an act of conformity. Other people are involved so we can join too (p.227).”

“In his workshops, Popovic (Serbian activist Srdja Popovic lead the cause to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic) trains revolutionaries to use humor as a weapon against fear (p. 228).”

“When Harvard professor John Kotter studied more than one hundred companies trying to institute major changes, he found that the first error they made was failing to establish a sense of urgency (p. 232).”

“”Instead of courage,” management guru Tom Peters recommends fostering “a level of fury with the status quo that one cannot not act.” (p. 236) ”

“Originals embrace the uphill battle, striving to make the world what it could be (p. 242)”

21. October 2016 · Comments Off on Favorite Quotes from the Originals by Adam Grant: Part One · Categories: Uncategorized



Favorite Quotes from the Originals by Adam Grant: Part One

“Justifying the default system serves a soothing function. It’s an emotional painkiller: If the world is supposed to be this way, we don’t need to be dissatisfied with it. But acquiescence also robs us of the moral outrage to stand against injustice and creative will to consider ways that the world could work. The hall mark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.” (p. 7)

“Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.” (p. 105)

“Conceptual innovators formulate a big idea and set out to execute it. Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along. They are at work on a particular problem, but they don’t have a specific solution in mind at the outset. Instead of planning in advance they figure it out as they go.” (p. 109-110)

“Researchers Debra Meyerson and Maureen Scully have found that to succeed, originals must often become tempered radicals. They believe in values that depart from traditions and ideas that go against the grain, yet they learn to tone down their radicalism by presenting their beliefs and ideas in ways that are less shocking and more appealing to mainstream audiences.” (p. 124)

“Our instinct is to sever our bad relationships and salvage the ambivalent ones. But the evidence suggests we ought to do the opposite: cut our frenemies and attempt to convert our enemies.” (p.131)

“The most promising ideas begin from novelty and then add familiarity…”(p. 136)

“Instead of assuming that others share our principles, or trying to convince them to adopt ours, we ought to present our values as a means of pursuing theirs. It’s hard to change other people’s ideals. It’s much easier to link our agendas to familiar values that people already hold.” (p. 140)

“According to eminent Standford professor James March, when many of us make decisions, we follow a logic of consequence: Which course of action will produce the best result? If you’re like (Jackie) Robinson, and you consistently challenge the status quo, you operate differently, using instead a logic of appropriateness: What does a person like me do in a situation like this? Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are-or who you want to be.” (p.154)

“When our character is praised, we internalize it as part of our identities. Instead of seeing ourselves as engaging in isolated moral acts, we start to develop a more unified self-concept as a moral person. (p. 168)”

“When we shift our emphasis from behavior to character, people evaluate choices differently. Instead of asking whether this behavior will achieve the results they want, they take action because it is the right thing to do. (p. 170)”

“If we want to encourage originality, the best step we can take is to raise our children’s aspirations by introducing them to different kinds of role models.” (p. 171)

“Remarkably, there are studies showing that when children’s stories emphasize original achievements, the next generation innovates more.” (p. 173)

“Founders with a commitment blueprint went about hiring differently. Skills and potential were fine, but cultural fit was a must. The top priority was to employ people who matched the company’s values and norms. The commitment blueprint involved a unique approach to motivation, too. Whereas founders with professional and star blueprints gave employees autonomy and challenging tasks, those with commitment blueprints worked to build strong emotional bonds among employees and to the organization. They often used words like family and love to describe the companionship in the organization, and employees tended to be intensely passionate about the mission. ….. When founders had a commitment blueprint, the failure rate of their firms was zero-not a single one of them went out of business.” (p. 180)

“Dissenting opinions are useful even when they’re wrong.” (p. 185)

“While it can be appealing to assign a devil’s advocate, it’s much more powerful to unearth one. When people are designated to dissent, they’re just playing a role. This causes two problems: They don’t argue forcefully or consistently enough for the minority viewpoint, and group members are less likely to take them seriously.” (p. 193)

“Dissenting for the sake of dissenting is not useful. It is also not useful if it is ‘pretend dissent’-for example, if role-played,” Nemeth (Charlan Nemeth Berkely psychologist) explains. “It is not useful if motivated by considerations other than searching for the truth or the best solutions. But when it is authentic, it stimulates thought; it clarifies and it emboldens.” (p. 193)

“By building a culture in which people are constantly encouraging one another to disagree, Dalio (CEO Ray Dalio of Bridgwater) has created a powerful way to combat conformity. Yet the kind of disagreement he seeks is the opposite of what most leaders invite.” (p. 196)

05. September 2016 · Comments Off on 10 Things I learned from Johns Hopkins negotiation professor Brian Gunia · Categories: Uncategorized



  1. How did he get interested in negotiation and what made him want to dedicate a career to the study/discussion/teaching of negotiation?


He worked for 3 years in consulting and was fascinated by the interactions amongst workers implementing project ideas. The “people dynamics” that he observed sparked interest into negotiation as a topic to be studied and taught. After earning a PhD at Northwestern he came to Johns Hopkins University to teach. He currently blogs at https://briangunia.com/my-blog-lifes-negotiable/



  1. What should people who are not business school students (i.e. those of us in the humanities) do to become better negotiators?


People should realize that negotiations are all around us. Negotiation is not a special skill to be relegated to attorneys. Rather it involves focusing less on demands/offers and more on what motivates other people. Negotiation works best when parties strive towards a creative solution instead of an aggressive confrontation.


  1. Has he read any books lately that give additional insight into negotiation? Does he have a favorite book on negotiation?


Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton is used in his classes. 3-d Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals by David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius is also another book he uses. The Big Short by Michael Lewis comes recommended and highlights some interesting negotiation dynamics between the investors and Wall St. Banks. He is currently writing his own book and has completed the first three chapters. The Bartering Mindset, tentativley set to come out at the end of 2017, focuses on how a cash based economy has caused our society to lose touch with critical negotiation skills learned in the bartering economy.


  1. What negotiator is he following in the news? If so, what can we learn from them?


Donald Trump is who he’s following. Trump does a good job being a competitive and aggressive negotiator. However, the other side of negotiation is to be cooperative, integrative, and creative. Those are skills that Trump does not display publicly.


  1. His favorite three blog posts that he’s written?


Work-life balance as a negotiation with yourself. Friday Night Fights: Choosing Negotiation Instead of Persuasion. These posts deal with really common situations that we don’t usually think of as negotiations. But when we do, they become much more manageable. What I Learned About Negotiation from Keith Murnighan (1948-2016) Mentorships are key to success in academia and Murnighan had a big impact on his mentees. The blog post articulates the top five things Gunia learned about negotiation from the way Murnighan lived his life.



  1. Is part of our society’s problem with negotiation that we like to rush things? How does a U.S. negotiator differ in their sense of time compared to a non-U.S. negotiator?


There is little evidence that American negotiators perform substantially better or worse than negotiators from other nationalities. That being said, there is a power in using silence and waiting and these are often underestimated. In addition, listening is a key skill to cultivate. There is value in spending less time talking and more time listening. In East-Asian and Latin American cultures there is an interest in learning about each other and building a long term relationship. This is unlike the U.S. where one is more prone to get directly down to business.


  1. How do we know we have reached a successful conclusion to a negotiation? Should we expect a clear conscience or some type of inner peace at the end of a good negotiation?


One of the features of the real-world negotiation process is that we never know how well we do. The metrics for tracking success are: 1) is the problem solved, 2) is the end result better than the alternative, and 3) do you end up getting close to your initial goal.


  1. What is the best way to interact with the other party we are negotiating with?


Negotiators are left to their own devices—few rules or regulations apply. If one is to be aggressive and competitive, than they should use those skills to combat the problem not the other person. No strategy is risk free, but there is value to being a problem solver and to sharing information with the other party, in hopes that they do so in return. Negotiators should be asking questions in an effort to contribute to an open exchange of information. Hopefully, the negotiator that leads by example and shares information will see their counterpart also share information.


  1. What is it like to write for a variety of well known publications, such as the Harvard Business Review?


The process writing for the Harvard Business Review is different than that of pure academic journals. The writer sends a proposal and then the Harvard Business Review provides feedback to the writer about whether the proposal is accepted and how to best present their article to move to the next step in the publishing process. With pure academic journals the process is very different. The writer generally submits their entire paper to the journal and then awaits a decision for a rejection or a revision requested by the editor. If a revision is needed, then another version of the entire paper must be submitted.


  1. What would be the one tip that is crucial to negotiating well?


Negotiations are all around us. We all can be good negotiators, as good negotiators are not naturally born. Negotiation is not a battle. The creative negotiator will usually outperform the aggressive negotiator as the creative negotiator will find a solution that is beneficial to both sides.

07. August 2016 · Comments Off on UK Librarian Ned Potter on User Experience in Libraries · Categories: Uncategorized

It is my great privilege to have Ned Potter, from the United Kingdom, discuss User Experience in Libraries as a guest columnist. I am most thankful for him taking the time to be on the 8020librarianblog.

A little information about Ned.

Ned Potter is an Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of York, UK, and a Trainer on marketing and emerging technologies for various organisations such as the British Library, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, and PiCS in Australia and New Zealand. He can be found online at ned-potter.com, and on twitter @ned_potter. His book, The Library Marketing Toolkit, was published in 2012. 



In the UK there is a growing movement around User Experience (UX) in libraries. Specifically UX that moves beyond computers and screens, and that focuses on people and human interactions rather than web usability testing. It involves studying our library users to find how they truly behave and to identify what they truly need, and then designing changes to our services based on what we learn.

Before we go any further, here’s a User Experience primer. What is UX, what are ethnography and human-centred design, and how can they help your library?

How it all started

It was Andy Priestner, then Library Services Manager at Judge Business School Library at Cambridge University and now a Trainer and Consultant, who brought UX to the attention of many of us over here, and who started talking about the ethnographic and design techniques he was using to improve his library at Cambridge. I watched him give this presentation at the BLA Conference in 2014 – Why UX in libraries is a thing now – which nicely introduced the subject and included specifics examples of projects they and others had undertaken.

He wrote an article for CILIP (the UK Library body)’s Update magazine, from which this quote is taken:

Ethnography is simply a way of studying cultures through observation, participation and other qualitative techniques with a view to better understanding the subject’s point of view and experience of the world. Applied to the library sector, it’s about user research that chooses to go beyond the default and largely quantitative library survey, with a view to obtaining a more illuminating and complex picture of user need. These are often hidden needs that our users do not articulate, find it difficult to describe, are unwilling to disclose, or don’t even know that they have – which special ethnographic approaches are perfect for drawing out.

As for ‘UX’, until recently it has largely referred to design and usability of a website or software, but it is now enjoying a broader – and more useful – definition which encompasses user experience of spaces and services too. UX in Libraries [endeavours] to  weave together ethnography, usability, and space and service design techniques under one umbrella.

– Andy Priestner, Update May 2015

Andy is the conference chair for the UX in Libraries Conference – or UXLibs – which really kicked off the movement in the UK.

UXLibs I and II

The conference known as UXLibs took place in Cambridge in 2015, attended by around 130 librarians. It was a very international audience for a 3-day event which worked its delegates HARD – and I say that as someone who attended. As well as keynotes and workshops there was a team activity which involved all of us going into the field, doing actual ethnographic research over the 3 days, and then designing a service based on what we’d learned. It was intense, and for the vast majority of people who attended it was the best conference they’d ever attended. You can read the reviews and experiences here.

What then happened was all the librarians went away desperate to implement what we’d learned – we all started DOING ethnography as soon as we possibly could. And because we learned more about our users than we ever had before using more traditional data gathering methods like surveys and focus groups, we kept doing it. We shared experiences, we blogged about what we did.

UXLibs II happened in Manchester, England, in June 2016, and I joined the organising committee for this one. We had 150 people this time (60 were overseas) and it was again absolutely fantastic, although political events happening at the same time in the UK made for a very strange atmosphere on Day 2… The community fed back on everything it had done, ideas were shared, inspiration happened, new projects began.

Something both conferences had in common was they benefited from keynotes by Donna Lanclos, who is an absolutely key figure in the UX movement.

Donna Lanclos

This kind of UX takes an anthropological approach, and in the UK we’ve been heavily influenced by the Associate Professor for Anthropological Research at J. Murrey Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte, Donna Lanclos. (I’ve written out her job title in full because I got it wrong when introducing her keynote at the second annual User Experience in Libraries Conference this summer, which was embarrassing.) Donna is one of two anthropologists that I know of who are employed by a library – the other being Andrew Asher – and generally speaking, the US and Scandinavia are leading the way when it comes to UX in libraries.


If you imagine one of those Champagne Towers you see in movies about the roaring 20s, where someone pours from the bottle into top-most glass and then it spills into all the other glasses stacked below it – the UK library scene is the glasses, ethnography and UX is the champagne, and Donna is the bottle at the top. We owe lot to her enthusiasm, her incredibly detailed knowledge, and her ability to communicate complicated ideas effectively.

What happens next?

Someone recently asked Andy Priestner what the ‘next big thing’ would be after UX. This is to completely misunderstand the impact UX is having on libraries and our users. UX is not a fad or fashionable thing that will fade, it is a truly insightful way of understanding our users making things better for them in a way they truly appreciate.

For the libraries in the UK, the biggest challenge has often been in implementing change – conducting the ethnography is one thing, but getting the changes approved for the way we design our services is trickier… But changes are starting to happen. You can read about what we’ve done at my own institution, the University of York, on the Lib-Innovation Blog. We’ve run three projects so far using UX techniques and learned more about the three sets of users we studied than we’ve ever learned about our users before. The current project involved over 100 academics and will inform a huge amount of what we do going forward in 2017 and onwards.

The third UXLibs Conference will take place in June 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland. We can’t wait.


More information and further reading 

If you’re interested in UX and the way it could help your organisation, I’ve put together a structured introduction to the subject on my website. It contains a number of embedded presentations and links to project reports, books we’ve found useful, and the Weave UX journal. Take a look and see what you might do with User Experience in libraries.

27. July 2016 · Comments Off on Top Librarian Podcasts · Categories: Uncategorized

These librarian podcasts appeared earlier in the year in ALA Magazine (January/February 2016 pages 16 to 17) and I thought I would put their names and links here for the reader.

Cyberpunk Librarian

Dear Book Nerd

Documents that Changed the World


Open Paren

Reading Envy

T is for Training

Worst Bestsellers


15. July 2016 · Comments Off on The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack · Categories: Uncategorized

index card

Do I agree or disagree with the ten principles of The Index Card?

1: Strive to Save 10 to 20 Percent of Your Income: Absolutely Agree! This is the principle tenet of opening chapters of highly regarded personal finance books like the Wealthy Barber and More Money Please. It is imperative that people automate their savings. In addition experts say (page 30) that no more than 50 to 60 percent of take home pay should be put toward non-discretionary expenses such as housing, transportation, and health care. A suggestion is made to use cash instead of card to keep better track of spending. Finally, money should be set aside for an emergency. An emergency fund worth three months of expenses is suggested.

2: Pay Your Credit Card Balance in Full Every Month: Again Absolutely Agree! More Money Please has this as a mandate as well. What I liked in this chapter is the discussion about being aware of debt consolidators. The book notes that debt consolidation is still debt. What I did not know until reading the book is that debt consolidation loans need to be secured by a possession such as a car or home (page 57). Olen and Pollack suggest that consumers use the nonprofit organization National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “However, it’s important to remember even the most honest players can have conflicts of interest. Some of the nonprofits funded with bank and credit card money, for instance, will rarely recommend bankruptcy, no matter how dire your situation. (page 58)” The authors mentioned that while peer to peer lending through a company like Lending Club is possible, people who are in the most difficult circumstances may not be able to use the service. Olen and Pollack conclude with using bankruptcy as the best method to deal with severe debt problems. As noted on page 59, “Bankruptcy is not an easy process, but it just might be easier than dedicating years of your life to paying off bills that the courts would agree are too much for you to handle on your income and assets.” I like the discussion about the pros and cons of bankruptcy. The disadvantages are that it will be tough to access credit for several years. The authors note that “some future employers are likely to look down on it.” On the other hand the advantages are that collection agencies can no longer contact you. Finally, the discussion of student loans is enlightening and the big take away I got was that you should always borrow from the federal government first as the government is far more most flexible than private lenders.

3: Max Out Your 401 (k) and other tax advantaged savings account: Agree! On page 68 the authors clearly state, “After your emergency fund, saving for retirement is probably the most important savings you’ll ever undertake. When it comes to planning for retirement, play-ground rules apply-no do-overs.” The time value of money is an important consideration and it pays to save as early as possible in your career. If you start saving too late you’ll have a lot of work to do to catch up. Also key are the tax benefits to using workplace retirement plans such as a 401 (k) or a 403 (b). Additionally, taking advantage of the employer match is recommended by almost every financial professional. As stated on page 79, “If your employer offers a retirement account with a match, this is likely the best shot you will ever get at earning money for doing absolutely nothing. Don’t turn it down.” I am also in agreement with the authors statement that one should never take money from a retirement account unless they are out of options. One thing that I did not know is that workplace retirement plans “almost always come with lower-fee investment options and stronger regulatory protections than you will get on your own.” This chapter ends with a look at Coverdell Education Savings Account and the 529.

4: Never Buy or Sell Individual Stocks: Disagree! While I would not recommend solely using individual stocks to build an entire portfolio (the chapter starts with the cautionary tale of Kodak’s stock falling from grace), I think that there are grounds to consider investing in individual stocks. If you have an adequate emergency savings fund, you have automatic withdrawals going into retirement savings by which you are positioning yourself in a good financial place for retirement, and you have automatic contributions going into a number of index funds (the subject of the next chapter) there is no harm in buying individual stocks from reputable companies. Ideally you would purchase large cap stocks that yield adequate dividends and have knowledge of the company that you are buying stock in. A small portfolio of stocks from across a variety of industries will prevent you from putting all your eggs in one basket. Money Magazine and Morningstar can be consulted to see what financial analysts think about the companies you are considering buying stock in. I would look for companies under good management, have a good long term track record, make a valuable product few can replicate, and successfully adapt to change. If you have firsthand knowledge of the company’s products and are a fan of what they do, that also should be considered. Again, I would not suggest doing this until you have an emergency savings fund, are in a good place with your retirement savings, and you are contributing to index funds. Be prepared to hold the stocks for the long term.

5: Buy Inexpensive, Well-Diversified Indexed Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds.: Absolutely Enthusiastically Agree! As noted on page 116, “An index fund doesn’t seek to do better than the index it is meant to replicate. On the other hand, it won’t do worse. That, it turns out, is the magic investing formula. It’s the opposite of active management. It’s passive management.” The authors do a good job explaining the differences between mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETF). These are worth mentioning. From pages 120-121, “Mutual funds are not always index funds. Exchange-traded funds are almost always pegged to an index or other benchmark. Exchange-traded funds can be traded like stocks. Mutual funds can be bought and sold only at the end of the business day. Exchange traded funds almost always have lower expense ratios but higher trading costs than mutual funds.” The authors suggest funds that offer a mixture of stocks and bonds. On page 125, they suggest that you subtract your age from 100 and use that number as the percentage of assets that should be invested in stocks. The chart on page 127 is helpful and matches the general pattern I have seen of a well balanced index fund portfolio where a domestic stock index fund, a international stock index fund, and a bond index fund are used. The authors go a bit further and also suggest the use of a small cap index fund. In total their suggest portfolio for a 40 year old is a total of 60% of the portfolio based on stocks (70 % S& P index fund, 15% small-cap index fund, 15% international fund) the remaining 40 % is invested in a bond index fund. The authors do not recommend target date funds as they find that those funds are high-fee investments. I would not rule target date funds out entirely, you have to do the background research (one example would be to find out what Money Magazine/ Morningstar ratings the target date fund has), and then find out what the costs are.

6:Make Your Financial Advisor Commit to the Fiduciary Standard: Agree! This was a chapter where I learned a lot! For starters the definition of a fiduciary is (from page 135), “a financial advisor who has a legal and regulatory duty to put your interests ahead of his or her own. A financial advisor working to the fiduciary standard 1) has a legal duty to act in your best interests; and 2) is not getting paid to steer you into buying overpriced investment products you don’t want or need.” On page 149 the authors identify a fiduciary as having these credentials: certified financial planner (CFP), registered investment advisor (RIA), and fee-only advisor. The writers suggest visiting http://cfp.net/ and http://www.napfa.org/ to research potential fiduciaries. The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard’s website is at http://www.thefiduciarystandard.org/. The oath you can have your advisor sign is found at http://www.thefiduciarystandard.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/fiduciaryoath_individual.pdf. Also of interest to me was the brief discussion of robo-advisors which use algorithms to suggest a series of investments. Despite the appeal, the authors still recommend that you need to ask if the robo-advisor is a fiduciary.

7: Buy a Home When You Are Financially Ready: Agree, but only because of the operative phrase “when you are financially ready.” The chapter discusses the pros and cons of renting vs. owning a home before moving onto the financial basics of purchasing a home. For me the most important part of the chapter was the list of basic tips that should be considered when thinking about buying a home. On page 164, the authors emphasize that experts suggest spending a third (or less) of your take-home pay on housing. Also the three most important things in a real estate purchase are (from page 165) “location, location, and location. The creakiest home in a desirable neighborhood will likely do better for you- at least financially-over the long run than a gorgeous home in a lesser locale.” On page 166, it is noted that homes are a long term investment and it may take at least five years to have a shot at breaking even on the purchase. Also recommended on page 167 is putting 20 % down on the home while having other debt under control. On page 170, Olen and Pollack prefer buyers look into the “traditional 15 or 30 year fixed payment mortgage, preferably with 20 percent down.” An emergency savings account should still be kept intact and should not be raided to pay for down payment costs. Critical is the need to research mortgages before buying the home. The authors suggest using http://www.consumerfinance.gov/know-before-you-owe/ and http://www.bankrate.com/ to compare mortgages. Also, don’t engage in real estate speculation!

8:Insurance-Make Sure You’re Protected: Agree! This chapter is a good reiteration of the basics of insurance. For life insurance (page 181) Olen and Pollack suggest a thirty-year level term life policy, even if you are not convinced you will not need the policy for that long.” Getting disability insurance from your employer is strongly urged. Property insurance is best handled with a high deductible plan. Auto insurance should have collision and liability coverage. Liability insurance should be twice the amount of your net worth. There is discussion of comparison shopping for health insurance. For retirement protection, longevity annuities that are fixed and low cost are recommended. Buying insurance from a reputable company (i.e. one that does well in Consumer Reports) is recommended.

9: Do What You Can To Support the Social Safety Net: Agree! Olen and Pollack say this the best on pages 206 to 207. “It is important to show our support for programs like Social Security and Medicare so that you can turn to the insurance broker of last resort, the government, if things go wrong.” I’ll jump ahead a little and quote them from page 207, “When someone decries Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, remind him or her that many elderly would lead much poorer lives without it. When you hear someone say the government should keep its mitts off Medicare, speak up and say it is a government program.”

10: Remember the Index Card: Agree! Read the book!

21. June 2016 · Comments Off on The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar · Categories: Uncategorized


These are my favorite quotes from Randy Komisar’s The Monk and the Riddle

Page 29: “VCs (Venture Capitalists) have no percentage in telling you “no” outright. A “no” from a venture capitalist is as rare as the “no” of a Japanese salaryman. Unless you mug the receptionist on the way out or spray graffiti all over their German sedans, VCs seldom turn you down outright.”

Page 30: “VCs, I explained, want to know three basic things: Is it a big market? Can your product or service win over and defend a large share of that market? Can your team do the job?”

Page 35: “Even when large companies try to set up small, intrapreneurial units, they are hard-pressed to find people inside the company who will drive them with the same fervor and penny-pinching zeal that desperation demands of independent startups. The accoutrements of established businesses- the company cafeteria, the clerical support, the illusory job security, the pension plans, and everything else a large organization can provide-are inconsistent with Valley startup mentality.”

Page 38: “VCs invest first and foremost, I explained in people. The team would have to be intelligent and tireless. They would need to be highly skilled in their functional areas, though not necessarily highly experienced. Moreover, they would need to be flexible and capable of learning quickly.”

Page 47: “Good entrepreneurs are passionate visionaries, usually with one or more exceptional talents, but rarely have they actually built a company from scratch.”

Page 52: “ …that sense of momentum-in terms of market acceptance, financing opportunities, partnership interest, and the ability to attract talent- is crucial in the Valley.”

Page 53: “You have to be able to survive mistakes in order to learn, and you have to learn in order to create sustainable success.”

Page 55: “It comes down to my realization over the years that business isn’t primarily a financial institution. It’s a creative institution. Like painting and sculpting, business can be a venue for personal expression and artistry, at its heart more like a canvas than a spreadsheet.”

Page 65:  On the Deferred Life Plan

“For the promise of full coverage under the plan, you must divide your life into two distinct parts: Step one: Do what you have to do. Then eventually- Step two: Do what you want to do.”

Page 83: “Passion pulls you toward something that you cannot resist. Drive pushes you toward something you feel compelled or obligated to do. If you know nothing about yourself, you can’t tell the difference. Once you gain a modicum of self-knowledge, you can express your passion. But it isn’t just the desire to achieve some goal or payoff, and it’s not about quotas or bonuses or cashing out. It’s not about jumping through someone else’s hoops. That’s drive.”

Page  107: “The chance to work on a big idea is a powerful reason for people to be passionate and committed. The big idea is the glue that connects with their passion and binds them to the mission of an organization. For people to be great, to accomplish the impossible, they need inspiration more than financial incentive.”

Page 110: “Business conditions are forever changing. You need to reconsider your strategies and business models constantly and adjust them where necessary. But the big idea that your company pursues is the touchstone for these refinements. Ditching the big idea in order to deal with business exigencies leaves you without a compass. I always advise companies to define their business in terms of where it’s going, what it’s becoming, not simply where it is. Set the compass, then work hard to clear a path, knowing that you may meander as you stumble upon obstacles but will always keep heading toward the same coordinates.”

Page 122: “But first and foremost, to be successful, business is about people.”

Page 128: “Sever the chain of values between leadership and the people translating strategy into products and services for your customers, and you will destroy your foundation for long term success. The culture you create and principles you express are the only connection you will have with each other and your many constituencies.”

Page 135: “Management and leadership are related but not identical. Management is a methodical process; its purpose is to produce the desired results on time and on budget. It compliments and supports but cannot do without leadership, in which character and vision combine to empower someone to venture into uncertainty. Leaders must suspend the disbelief of their constituents and move ahead even with very incomplete information.”

Page 150: “Silicon Valley does not punish business failure. It punishes stupidity, laziness, and dishonesty. Failure is inevitable if you are trying to invent the future. The Valley forgives business failures that arise from natural causes and acts of God: changes, for example, in the market, competition, or technology.”

Page 153: “That should be your primary measure of success- excellence- not simply the spoils that come with good fortune. You don’t want to entrust your satisfaction and sense of fulfillment to circumstances outside your control. Instead, base them on the quality of what you do and who you are, not the success of your business per se.”

Page 155: “Only the Whole Life Plan leads to personal success. It has the greatest chance of providing satisfaction and contentment that one can take to the grave, tomorrow. In the Deferred Life Plan there will always be another prize to covet, another distraction, a new hunger to sate. You will forever come up short.”

Page 156: “Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset-time- to what is most meaningful to you.”

Page 158: “Time is the only resource that matters.”

20. June 2016 · Comments Off on Udacity site’s: How to Build a Startup · Categories: Uncategorized

Just learned about Udacity’s How to Build a Startup. Feel free to check it out.